Feature Article of Saturday, 23 June 2012
Columnist: Ata, Kofi
Are Ghana High Commission (London) and Ghana Embassy (Washington DC) Engaged in Dual Citizenship Fraud?
By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK
On May 22, 2012 the Supreme Court of Ghana ruled that Ghanaians who are eligible for Dual Citizenship under the provisions of the Citizenship Act 2002 (Act 591) are no longer required to apply for Dual Citizenship and be issued with Dual Citizenship Certificate or Card. I quote from the relevant sections of the written judgment of the Supreme Court (Justice Date-Bah) as follows:
“A Declaration that the administrative requirement of the Republic of Ghana for a dual citizen to obtain dual citizenship card is discriminatory, unreasonable, burdensome, serves no legitimate constitutional purpose and thereby null, void and of no effect as it contravenes the letter and spirit of Article 17 of the 1992 Constitution”;
A “Declaration that the administrative requirement of the Republic of Ghana for a dual citizen to obtain dual citizenship card is discriminatory, unreasonable, burdensome, serves no legitimate constitutional purpose and thereby null, void and of no effect as it contravenes the letter and spirit of Article 15(1) of the 1992 Constitution”.
The above were among the three reliefs that were granted by the Supreme Court in the case of Professor Stephen Kwaku Asare versus the Attorney General of Ghana. Prof Kwaku Asare posted an article on Ghanaweb regarding the ruling on June 4, 2012 (see “The Supreme Court’s Pronouncement on Dual Citizenship in Ghana”).
The questions I, and believe most Ghanaians in the Diaspora if not all would want to ask are:
• why is it that despite the above Declarations by the Supreme Court on May 22, 2012 the Ghana High Commission in London and the Embassy in Washington DC still advertising Dual Citizenship Application on their websites?
• Are these Missions still unaware of the Supreme Court ruling or just disregarding the ruling?
• Are the acts of advertising and processing Dual Citizenship applications for a fee not breach of the Supreme Court ruling and Ghana’s Constitution?
• Is advertising, processing and charging fees for Dual Citizenship applications contrary to the supreme Court ruling not fraud?, etc.
As a friend and classmates in Ghana, I was fortunate that Prof Stephen Kwaku Asare kindly e-mailed copy of the Supreme Court written judgement to me from US on 31 May 2012 and since then, I have taken it upon myself to disseminate this good news to Ghanaians in the Diaspora. I have mentioned it on and sent copies to programme presenters and hosts of London based Ghanaian Radio Stations, some acquaintances in the UK, US and mainland Europe and asked them to spread the news amongst Ghanaians who may be interested. I tried without success to speak to Ghana High Commission in London about this matter but after a number of telephone calls, I gave up. On two occasions, I was asked to ring later to speak to the Director of Passports but when I telephoned on the agreed times, I was told the Passport Director was unavailable. I then e-mailed a copy of the judgement to the High Commission through the two e-mail details advertised on their website. In the e-mail, I advised them to update the information on Dual Citizenship on their website to reflect the Supreme Court ruling. I also stated that, failure to do so would compel me to post this article on Ghanaweb and explained that, I was not threatening them but part of the efforts to make Ghanaians aware of their Constitutional Rights.
A couple of days ago, I visited the website of the Ghana Embassy in Washington DC and realised that they have also advertised information about Dual Citizenship application on their website. Again, I sent them copy of the Supreme Court ruling using the e-mail address advertised on the website. I received an automatic acknowledgement mail with a message that my mail would be forwarded to the Mission for action but I am yet to hear from them. Ghana High Commission in London is yet to even acknowledge the two e-mails I sent to them over two weeks ago. Since they have not been returned, I know that they were successfully delivered to the two addresses. I am certain that what the two Missions are engaged in is Dual Citizenship fraud on Ghanaians in the Diaspora. I also believe that this fraud is not being perpetrated by only the two Missions in the UK and US but also by other Ghanaian Missions all over the world.
As far as I understand, the effective date of judicial decisions are usually immediate, unless the court or judge/s direct/s otherwise, there is an appeal, including judicial review or the Executive has introduced primary legislation through the Legislature or secondary legislation by Legislative Instrument through the Legislature. Since the Supreme Court Justices did not give any directives regarding the effective date of their ruling and the Government of Ghana through the Attorney General and Minister for Justice has not done any of the above, the Supreme Court ruling on Ghanaian Dual Citizenship came into effect on May 22, 2012.
Is the Government of Ghana disregarding this important Supreme Court ruling and if not why is it not being implemented by the Missions abroad? Has the Attorney General and Minister for Justice or Attorney General’s Department and Ministry of Justice informed the Minister for Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Foreign of Affairs about the ruling in order for the Foreign Minister or Ministry to also inform Ghana’s Missions abroad? My suspicion is that, it is highly likely that, no one in Ghana has take the trouble to inform Ghanaian Missions abroad about the ruling and the Missions themselves have also failed to keep abreast with developments in Ghana.
What do the above say about Ghana and the rule of law? Could these be an indication of either how structures of governance and accountability work or do not work in Ghana at the highest level or part of the incompetence of the current administration? Perhaps, it could also be the Mills administration’s recalcitrant attitude towards judicial decisions and the judiciary in general. In today’s modern technology, it would have taken less than an hour for officials in Ghana to inform Ghanaian Missions abroad about the ruling and to instruct them to act in accordance with the ruling by just the click of a mouse but over a month after the ruling, these Missions are acting as if nothing has happened. It’s business as usual to make money for Ghana through unconstitutional means. This is fraud and highway robbery of innocent Ghanaians in the Diaspora. It is a breach of the Constitutional and constitutional right of Ghanaians that are affected by the ruling.
I am also disappointed that such an important ruling that affects tens or hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians across the globe is yet to be reported by the Ghanaian media. Is it because Ghanaians in the Diaspora are not important to the nation despite the huge contributions they make to Ghana’s socio-economic and political development through remittances and other direct and indirect (foreign) investments? Is it because such news item is not sensational, the case does not involve a high profile politician allegedly involved in corruption or is one high profile Ghanaian politician more important than all the Ghanaians who stand to benefit from this ruling? Just imagine the publicity generated by the Jake’s land case judgement by the Supreme Court, though I appreciate that, that case was also important and had implications on future sale and acquisition state land in Ghana, but in my candid view, the Supreme Court Dual Citizenship judgement is more important and should have received headline coverage in the Ghanaian press.
Since the media in Ghana is not interested in the affairs of those of us away from home we have to take care of ourselves. May I therefore take this opportunity to kindly request Ghana High Commission in London, Ghana Embassy in Washington DC and all other Ghanaian Missions abroad who are still processing Dual Citizenship applications for a fee to put a stop to it with immediate effect? The reason is, it has been ruled, “discriminatory, unreasonable, burdensome, serving no legitimate constitutional purpose and is null, void and of no effect and contravenes the letter and spirit of the Articles 15(1) and 17 of the 1992 Constitution. Processing of Dual Citizenship applications after 22 May 2012 is unconstitutional and the fees charge constitute fraud on Ghanaians in the Diaspora.
For Ghanaians all over the world, who meet Ghanaian Dual Citizenship eligibility criteria, by the ruling of the Supreme Court of May 22, 2012, you automatically became a Dual Citizen of Ghana and your other country. You do not have to and must not apply for it and pay a fee for the reasons given by the Supreme Court (as in the above paragraph or quoted at the beginning of this article). For those who have applied and are awaiting the outcome, I suggest that you contact the respective Missions to ask for a refund of the application fees you paid, especially those who paid the applications fees after May 22, 2012.
I am willing to send readers copy (pdf) of the Supreme Court written judgement, so if you want a copy, please kindly provide your e-mail details with your comment. To avoid receiving unsolicited e-mails from people you do not know, I suggest readers sign up for a one off e-mail account for this purpose and close it after receiving the copy. Please do not use your usual e-mail details as I cannot be responsible for any unsolicited e-mails or abuses you receive from some readers. Alternatively, I will send a copy to Ghanaweb, so you could contact them for a copy (provided Ghanaweb is happy to do it readers this favour). I also reserve my inalienable right to refuse to mail a copy to any reader who posts abusive comments (by my own weak or strong standards).
Please kindly share the good news among your networks and with family members, friends, colleagues and any Ghanaian who are or is or could be affected by the ruling to stop them from becoming victims of the fraud by High Commissions and Embassies across the world. They are supposed to protect the interests of Ghana and Ghanaians in the countries they represent, yet by their actions and omissions on this matter, they are working against the interests of both Ghana and those of us in the Diaspora. Let me end by saying a big thank you to Prof Stephen Kwaku Asare and his legal team for the excellent job done for defending the constitutional rights of Ghanaians in the Diaspora. The success of his legal challenge is a gargantuan contribution to the development of Constitutional Law in Ghana. You can also contribute your quota by sharing the good news with others.
Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK